Director: Robert Lang, 2009
The Dakota Tavern is a honky-tonk basement bar in the middle of a burgeoning hipsterville. And to overworked singer/guitarist Serena Ryder, its home. When she first moved to Toronto from Peterborough, she found the city intimidating and cold until she met a gang of music outlaws who became her closest comrades. While Serenas career took off and sent her flying around the world, those comrades opened the Dakota, a musical sanctuary for others just like them. Now, the award-winning, chart-topping, jet-setting performer knows she can always find refuge there, whether she wants to chill anonymously or get up and jam. On a rare day off, Serena kicks back at the Dakota and explains how this hideaway has become a real community. Featuring special live performances with Serena, Dakota, houseband The Beauties and singer Damnhait Doyle.
Archive for the ‘Serena Ryder’ Category
Director: Robert Lang, 2009
LL: Give us your “elevator ride” pitch: the concept for your film in three sentences or less.
RL: Talented, smalltown girl comes to the big city, initially hates it, but finds friends, community and her kind of music in an unpretentious, alt country basement tavern.
LL: You’ve seen Serena perform before but what did you learn about her from the shoot that surprised you?
RL: I didn’t realize Serena grew up just a few minutes up the road from where I now live. And she really carries that small town, un-ironic freshness with her – Serena’s smart, perceptive… and, man, can she sing!
LL: Any advice for other filmmakers on how to make a great 4-minute film?
RL: Well, it’s a different challenge from a long-form film. And since this is the first short film I’ve made in many years, I’m no expert. But this is how I work: love your subject, be inquisitive and open, figure out the story you want to tell — and then keep it simple. You’re not going to make Citizen Kane in 4 minutes.
LL: Do you have a favourite secret bar/hideaway in the city?
RL: I live in the country now, so I use the city differently now than when I lived here and had my favourite neighbourhood haunts and after-hours clubs. These days, I’m always discovering new places in the city. While making this film, I spent time at the Communist’s Daughter and the Dakota, both of which are pretty cool.
Check out the production pics from City Sonic’s latest artist Serena Ryder as she travels back to her old watering hole the Dakota Tavern. Serena not only stopped by to remiss about her favourite Toronto venue, but also performed with her old friends ‘The Beauties’. Check out photos from their performance here.
Serena Ryder lives on the road: touring, promo, awards shows and more. Her time at home is precious and we were given a tight timeline to capture her story about the Dakota Tavern. Thankfully, with her good friends The Beauties (the Dakota’s house band) as allies, she was inspired to jump on stage and perform for us as well. We witnessed first hand how for Serena this bar is home.
Most of our City Sonic artists were born and raised in Toronto. But the city has always attracted talents from all across the county who come here to make their way in the Canadian music biz. Of all the smalltown girls we talked to it was Serena Ryder (originally of Millbrook, Ontario) who best described what it was like to make that step, and how a basement bar called the Dakota became her sanctuary in the city. With her huge, honest voice we think she will soon belong to the world, but for now we’re pleased to call her one of ours.